Business Etiquette in Spain
Posted by Dreamer
Learn essential business etiquette and business culture in Spain. Topics include greeting, dress, table manners, time and scheduling, and space.
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” businesspeople are often told. “It’s polite and you’ll have a greater chance of having a successful business relationship.” But what do they do in Spain exactly? What is business etiquette in Spain? Read on and find out, for even if you can’t always do things the Spanish way, it’s good to know what the Spanish way is.
Meeting and Greeting in Spain
If you can, follow someone else’s lead, but be prepared to shake hands, exchange a kiss on each cheek (start with the right cheek; this is also known as dos besos, literally “two kisses”), quick embrace and/or backslap (for men). When in doubt, just stick to a firm handshake.
Always preface a telephone call or a meeting with a polite greeting: “Buenos días” (“Good morning”) or “Buenas tardes” (“Good afternoon”) are always good choices, but note that “Buenos días” is used until 2:00 pm or so, and “Buenas tardes” is used from then on.
It’s also common to greet and acknowledge people you meet as you move about an office. When you enter an elevator, greet the occupants with “Hola” or a “Buenos días” or “Buenas tardes”. Say “Hasta luego” or “Adiós” when you leave. It’s polite to greet the security guard or the portero (literally “doorman” or “porter”) stationed at the entrance to a building, as well as the staff of shops and restaurants.
Business Dress in Spain
Most Spaniards dress impeccably for business, often fairly formally. Their outfits are well put together, often perfectly color coordinated and accessorized. Even when the dress code is relaxed, Spaniards will always look clean and neat and dress stylishly.
Men can never go wrong with a well-tailored suit. Spanish men may wear a greater variety of colors and patterns than in other countries, but the range still doesn’t come close to Spanish women’s fashion. The most common men’s accessories are a good watch and a gold wedding band. (Note that the wedding ring in Spain is worn on the right hand, except in Cataluña.)
Women often wear smart, high-quality skirts, dresses or pantsuits, with stockings being de rigeur in fall and winter. As in other countries, dark colors and heavy fabrics prevail in winter, reserving light colors and lightweight fabrics for summer. Besides the ubiquitous jewelry, scarves are common accessories and high-heeled shoes are the standard.